… True-blue cultural traditionalism doesn’t deify kids. Deification of The Child is the hallmark of an infantile—perhaps even an immoral—society, because inverting the natural order will often result in great social ill.
“In America,” observed Oscar Wilde, “the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”
In China, on the other hand, they’re inclined to consider a youth-obsessed society such as ours a silly society. The standard inquiry, I am told, made by Taiwanese engineers about their American counterparts in hardware engineering is, “How many grey hairs and no-hairs are in the group?” Unlike their youth-worshiping American colleagues, these wise Confucians reason that the presence of “grey hairs and no-hairs” in the collaborating high-tech team bodes better for the project. …
And consider this familiar vignette, by way of an example: Today at Costco (that place would be perfect if it banned women), a mother and her young son straddled a counter I wanted to access. I waited patiently, my cart parked out of the way to allow others easy access. But there Miss Mom stood, oblivious to every other shopper, focused on teaching her brat consumerism. When I used to take my little girl to the local supermarket in South Africa, I taught her awareness not of the products, although there was some of that (and a lot of calculating the change we were owned from a note). But mainly, my daughter learned civility, social skills. If an elderly lady dropped something, the little girl was to pick it up. She was not to yell her demands out loud, although we’d always have a treat. She was to learn to make way, allow others access, say “excuse me,” if she bumped somebody or wanted a person to give way, and generally show awareness of her social milieu. Today, moms impart nothing but that the kid is the center of the universe, there to satisfy his contrived curiosity, his insatiable wants; do his label reading and list making at deafening decibels; get in everybody’s way, and generally impose himself on other shoppers.